Category Archives: Technology and Informatics

Posts related to technology, gadgets, cloud, informatics, or just about anything that is/can be/plugs into a computer. Relationship to radiology optional.

Password strength – something all radiologists should know

While taking a break from studying for the Core Exam, I stumbled upon this 2016 document from Microsoft about password security (yes, in some circles that is considered “taking a break”).

As radiologists, every day we are being asked to type in some sort of authentication username and password at work.  Every other week, we’re asked to change passwords for security reasons.  Every month, we forget one of those 23 passwords we’ve created over the past 3 years for the VA or another affiliated hospital, or some software you’ve not used for a while, or even just plain forgot. Continue reading

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The use of the phrase, “Artificial Intelligence” has exploded within the past few years as the theme of dozens of our most popular movies and television shows, magazines, books, and social media. This is despite the difficulty that many experts … Continue reading

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The May 2016 iteration of FHIR… has arrived. Most notable among its new capabilities: support for the Clinical Quality Language for clinical decision support as well as further development of work on genomic data, workflow, eClaims, provider directories and CCDA … Continue reading

The Paradox of Standardizing Broad Data

Last October, my team started working on a project to bridge the communication gaps between inpatient general medicine and radiology.  Despite having done a full year of internship before starting residency, we quickly realized that as radiologists we knew very little about healthcare is delivered on the wards.  Understanding how well the imaging workflow runs from ordering to reporting, identifying possible delays by systematically analyzing patient data seemed straightforward.

Hypothesized imaging workflow for admitted medicine patients. Source: post author

A 2-hour meeting, eight weeks of delay, and several email exchanges later, we now rely mostly on manual data collection. This blog post is about what happened. Continue reading

Programmable DNA Circuits Make Smart Cells a Reality – Sort of

… and imagine if you could program life itself.  Rather than 0’s and 1’s, you have four possibilities, a computing system performing quaternary arithmetics.

I still remember being dazzled as a freshman in college, during the first computer science lecture. The professor spoke of quantum computers, where improvements in speed of calculations can be measured in squaring time 2n rather than the traditional doubling time (i.e. Moore’s law) 2n.  And there was biologic computing, using simple building blocks of genetic material ACTG to perform calculations which take place in living cells.

Then, I spent the 15 years that follows writing them off as science fiction, pontifications of an old man.

I was, of course, wrong.

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The Value of Knowing What Lies Ahead

When I was in 8th grade, my English teacher wanted to give everyone a book to take into high school.  She had a cardboard box full of various books. There was literary fiction like Toni Morrison.  There was a memory aid for American presidents. But I came to class really late that day, so by the time I went up to the box, there were only a few books left.  I had the great choice between Billy Budd (dryest. book. ever.), Atlas Shrugged, and this book called Getting Things Done.

I picked up Getting Things Done because Atlas Shrugged didn’t fit in my bookbag.   It would be years before I realized that self-help productivity books is in itself a major genre of nonfiction.  At the time it just didn’t make sense why anyone would need such pathologic level of compulsion to keep things organized.

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5 Free Productivity Tools for the Radiology Resident

If you are a radiology resident, you probably spend more than eight hours a day in front of a computer.  Just as a cardiologist might spend hours looking for the best-in-class stethoscope and a neurologist a perfectly balanced reflex hammer, a radiologist might do well to spend some time thinking about spiffing up your workstation.

These are not radiology-specific tools.  They are also not mind-blowing innovations.  Instead, their existence often go unnoticed.  Like air, some tasks that these programs help you with are so ubiquitous you may not even even realize they could be improved.

Snipping Tool

Screen capturing is easy as 1, 2, 3

There is always a role for downloading full resolution TIFF images for publication purposes.  However, sometimes you just want a simple screenshot for case conference or teaching file.

Fortunately, there’s a one that is on just about every modern Windows machine.

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Know Your Informatics Architect

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in an informatics project is to assume that your Architect is “just a programmer.”

It is easy to fall into a search for “hard” technical skills when looking for technical talent: Do you know SQL?  Are you Microsoft certified?  Can you code a machine learning algorithm in Python?

These are important skills, to be sure.  However, just like radiologists are all different and that clinical knowledge is only one of many facets,  potential gaps in technological capabilities is also important.

The Architect also needs to know the data infrastructure of the organization.  In a large healthcare organization, she also needs a good rapport with the other experts in the organization.

The Architect often knows solutions without knowing that there exists a problem.  More than just the programming and technical hard skills, the Architect can be counted on to mobilize the necessary resources.

Knowing your informatics Architect’s specialization and corresponding limitations can save you months of work.

Towards Healthcare Interoperability: What Must Be Done?

Interoperability is becoming the most sought-after in healthcare, but needs further standardization.  Image Credit: http://cloudpro.co.uk

A few days ago, Walgreens announced a new deal with Epic Systems, joining numerous health systems (and one of its major competitors, CVS) by implementing Epic’s famous electronic health records (EHRs). In its press release, Walgreens cited interoperability as one of the primary reason for this transition:

QuoteThis state-of-the-industry EHR will enable more seamless communication with health systems and local providers, and gives us enhanced capabilities to deliver better health outcomes through greater care coordination and interoperability.”

Interoperability has become the holy grail of technology adaptation in many industries.  Continue reading

Be a Radiology Informatics Visionary

In The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Stephen Clark describes an “Earlyvangelist,” with the prefix “early” referring to a champion a the very early stage of a product adaptation cycle.

Since our emphasis is on problem and not the product, a different term might be more appropriate.  I will refer to this person as The Visionary.

The Visionary comes from the “problem end” of informatics. The Visionary is observant and asks good questions. She has a pain point. She knows when things just don’t look quite right. She may not know what the solution looks like. She may not even know that a solution exists. Marketers like Visionaries because these people see problem and can see the potential of the new purchase.

The Visionary is what all radiologists interested in informatics should be.  We see the clinical problem in a way that no software developer and no administrator can see.  Sitting down and accepting the status quo runs the risk of burying the problem forever.